Friday, October 30, 2020

SK Hynix: The Latest Technology Trend in CIS is about Functions, not Pixel

 SK Hynix Head of CIS ISP Taehyun (Ted) Kim publishes a post "The Visual Evolution & Innovation of Image Sensors." Few quotes:

"...this trend for high pixels in CIS is expected to face technical difficulties soon, and the innovation for a high level of functions centered on the ISP will be in full swing.

This is due to the limits of miniaturization of CIS pixels due to the diffraction limit. It is possible to reduce the critical dimension of electric circuits to several nanometers with the current semiconductor technology; however, since the light reception amount decreases as the pixel size decreases, the sensitivity and the signal level is reduced, resulting in the decline in SNR and the image quality degradation.

Currently, SK hynix’s CIS has built-in image processing functions such as phase detection auto focus (PDAF), Quad pixel processing, and high dynamic range (HDR) processing, and new functions are constantly being added to it.

Currently, SK hynix’s CIS, mainly the Black Pearl product line, is widely used in smartphone cameras and the application field is expected to expand to various fields such as bio, security, and autonomous vehicles.

In the future, CIS is expected to evolve into an information sensor that supports advanced additional functions, without being limited to image quality improvement. SK hynix’s stack sensor is already capable of embedding a simple AI hardware engine inside the ISP on the lower substrate, based on the advanced semiconductor process. Based on this, SK hynix is currently developing new machine learning-based technologies such as super resolution, color restoration, face recognition, and object recognition."

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